We were in the middle of selling our house while beginning building our new home. There were showings nearly every day, my husband was working all day every day, and the roof was being replaced for the buyers. How do you practice intentional parenting in the midst of all of this?
Life was chaos.
It became so easy to plop my kiddos in front of the tv all day while I packed and prepared the house to sell. Let’s be honest, it can be so easy to switch on the tv and let technology babysit.
Then one day, I stopped in the midst of the roofers pounding away. I noticed my daughter staring at the tv even though she could hardly hear with all the noise.
I realized that even when the tv is on, my toddler often runs off to do something else while leaving the tv on in the background. And then proceeds to whine if I go to turn it off.
I thought back on the week at the amount of whining and fussing she had done and wondered if it was related to the amount of screen time.Correlation is not causation, of course. I mean, we’re moving. My kids’ worlds arebeing turned upside down and that’s enough cause for fussing from all of us (myself included). But, if there was a chance that the amount of tv was causing bad behavior then why not try and cut back?
This is no life for a kid.
They should be outside playing, creating, and doing. Not biding their time idley behind a screen.
I thought back on myself as a mother that week. I did not like how I reacted in some situations. And, I didn’t like my attitude or tone or voice.
How could I tell my toddler to cut the whining when that’s all I had been doing (in adult form) myself?
I decided to become more intentional as a mom.
Especially since we don’t have a tv or internet while living in the camper for a few months while we build our new house. I wanted to prepare my kids for the transition.
To me, being intentional means a lot of things. It means focusing less on what needs to be done in order to be present with my kids more.
I wanted to stress less and play more. To sit less and stay active more. To get frustrated less and to enjoy the moments more.
When I began my intentional journey, I didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, I expected small changes if any at all. But, what I found actually surprised me. The change in atmosphere, behavior, and attitudes in our house were definitely noticeable!
That week, I noticed three things happen in our house.
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Positive Change #1 – My toddler became more independent
It could be easy to list this as a change if it were subtle. But, the amount of independent was significant.
For example, I had been off and on potty training for months without really trying or taking the time to talk to her and teach her how to use her froggy potty that she now loves.
But what I noticed is that every time she asked for a diaper I would immediately put one on. When I stopped to take a moment to be intentional and talk to her, I realized that when she asked for a diaper, she was really trying to tell me that she needed to go potty.
So, after that, every time she asked for a diaper, I took her to the potty to see if she would go.
Within one week she was fully potty trained and working on night potty training too.
This showed me that the screen time had become an excuse for me to not pay attention or listen to my kids. When I stopped to listen, I learned what they needed and how I could better help them.
My toddler also learned how to put on and take off her shoes by herself that week. We had been working on that for awhile, but it was as if having the tv off gave her the patience to sit and work at it until she got it.
Positive change #2 –We were more active
This week we went to the museum and the hot springs and the river. We tried fishing and looked at bugs. We danced in the rain and played with umbrellas. We learned about dinosaurs, and musical instruments, and the alphabet.
My daughter saw her first snake (don’t worry, no one was harmed!). And we planted flowers together after going to the farmers market.
And guess what? I actually enjoyed being with my kids.
Granted, we were trying to get out of the house while the roofers and potential buyers were there, but I found that my kids behaved better when we were active.
I still haven’t figured out why that is. Maybe they need to burn off energy. Maybe they’re fascinated by something new. Or maybe they needed structure.
Either way, I’m much happier going out and doing things two to three days a week now. I specifically plan outings as a result of this week’s findings.
Positive change #3 – Our attitudes changed
This change seemed more subtle but definitely noticeable by the end of the week. It was as if I felt lighter. The atmosphere in my home felt more peaceful, even amidst the chaos.
I’ve already mentioned how my attitude as a mom changed. I was happier spending time with my kids and enjoyed being with them. I was less grumpy because I had activities planned. And, I felt more organized (if you can believe it even with the packing and moving!).
But the biggest attitude change was with my kids.
My toddler especially was less whiny and fussy. After the initial shock of being without the tv which, of course resulted in a meltdown, she became a much more pleasant person to be around.
I’ve mentioned how I felt more organized and how I planned activities. Well, it was as if my kids were less fussy as a result because they were always refocused.
Turning off the tv and becoming more intentional changed my life as a mom.
I’m not going to say I’ve completely eliminated screen time. I feel like there is always room for balance in life.
Instead, I want to teach my kids moderation. One show a day seems sufficient. And, we don’t have to watch tv every day. There are different ways to occupy our time.
There’s balance in our lives now.
Now that we’ve reduced screen time, we like to listen to music and dance a lot (the Greatest Showman and the Leap soundtrack are our favorites right now). We also love to go on walks and explore nature.
Our home feels more peaceful and more comfortable without a tv blaring background noise.
I’m by no means trying to guilt you into striving to “Mom” harder. Lord knows as moms we have a hard enough time laying guilt on ourselves!
For sure there are times when we watch tv all day like if we all have the stomach flu (or those last few months of pregnancy when I just wanted to lay around and sleep!). No Mom guilt here!
I just wanted to share with you what I found that helped me feel lighter and more free as a mom.
This Mom thing can be so dang hard. For me, it always helps to learn from other moms what has helped them in this journey so that I can continue to grow and find my own strengths and improve my weaknesses.
Life with kids is chaos. But it doesn’t have to be out of control.
If you’re feeling at all overwhelmed by the fussing or you’re feeling chaotic and out of control without a schedule, then I invite you to turn of the tv too and try to become more intentional this week. I’d love to hear what you find!
This past week I also found this lovely planner which has helped me plan activities each week and work on a daily routine. It has only been two weeks but it has already been such a lifesaver! I love the layout, fun colors, and notes and quotes from the author throughout.
I don’t want this week of being intentional to end here. I want to live every moment like this with my kids.
What does it mean to live intentionally as a mom? What steps have you taken to be more present with your kids?